Friday Fictioneers – The Boat Race

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - old shoes with cobwebs 170920

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

On some mornings opalescent mist wreathed the river, beautiful enough to tempt my girlfriend Linda to watch my training. Other mornings were cold, wet and windy. Every day, though, the training was hell, tugging the oars until we were physically sick.

The work in the gym was worse. Our exertions were relentlessly analysed, to decide who would race and who wouldn’t. I strove until my body spasmed with unbearable cramps.

“Not bad,” said the coach.

Last Saturday I found the trainers I’d worn, covered in cobwebs. I smiled and sighed. I’d raced and we’d won; but Linda had left me.

66 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – The Boat Race

    • Bittersweet indeed, Rochelle. The glory of victory would have made him a very eligible bachelor, and yet he is still wistful for Linda…
      Thank you for commenting, and for setting the challenge; you always choose stimulating photographs!
      Shalom
      Penny

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    • Thank you for a most interesting comment, Bjorn. I’m intrigued that the motivation to exercise is often lost when the competition is over. And I agree that love is a powerful force encouraging us to go on living.
      With best wishes
      Penny

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  1. I like how each of your story is so unique. Great writing , as always Penny . Life is all about ever changing priorities , sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge it , but the fact remains . The very wise are able to foresee what they might lose as a result of a particular choice and the less fortunate aren’t always able to calculate the impact of their choices at a given point in life , resulting in heavier and recurrent sighs, I believe.
    Love and regards,
    Moon

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  2. Competing is tough. The training is unbelievable. You have captured that unrelenting side of winning wonderfully. I can’t understand why Linda left…. sorry to contrastive your feelings and story… but then I am married to an international Judo athlete who was commonwealth champion aged 13 and in is in the Guinness Book of records for being the youngest lady to win it twice in succession. Guess I am just a proud husband who shared and shares her passion as my wife eats, lives, and sleeps judo. the only martial art I have never done. 😱 Great story, though, Penny, please don’t think I am being contrary.

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Kelvin. I think Linda would have stayed if the protagonist had showed how much he valued Linda. It’s one thing to support someone faithfully if you know they love you, but quite another if you’re not secure in that love. I’m sure, from what you write here, that your wife loves you very much indeed!
      With best wishes
      Penny

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  3. Thank you for the interesting and thought provoking comment, FF.
    I’m sure you’re right for some people; probably for everybody who reaches a pinnacle of achievement. But I think we probably all face really difficult choices at least once in our lives where we can’t avoid assessing our priorities. (BTW I don’t think that’s the case in my story. In the contest between rowing success and romance, romance took a battering!)
    With best wishes
    Penny

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  4. Sadly, this is true in many, many cases. Packed a punch in the last line there Penny. “I smiled and sighed” suggests this happened a long time ago and he doesn’t really “feel” as much about it now. Perhaps he has settled into a new life?
    You have left us thinking of a bigger story with this snippet. Well done!

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    • Thank you, Hombre.
      Yes, you need the right people in the right place at the right time, both ready to work hard at building a successful relationship.
      Or do you?
      I think that’s a fruitful question for we writers of fiction!
      With best wishes
      Penny

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  5. Hmm. Seems Linda is the villain here, but when you choose a relationship with someone who is completely dedicated to something, you really should expect to feel deserted. Eventually the hyperfocus will settle down, and the relationship will grow. On the other hand, she did watch when she could. I hope she found some happiness elsewhere 🙂

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Linda. Oops – sorry about the choice of name for my character!
      I don’t think she would have been happy if she’d stayed – she wanted a different sort of relationship, with an intimacy that the protagonist couldn’t give her then, and perhaps never. I’m sure that within a few months she would have been dating, and then – who knows?
      All the best
      Penny

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  6. Your story reminds me of one of my favorite couplet in our parts which loosely translates to ‘In Your life nothing is complete – somewhere someone doesnt get the sky while another the earth.’ But then again it made me think – if Linda truly loved him, she would have appreciated his passion and hung on. Besides, she needed to be a little more patient – apparently his passion didnt last very long… An awesome thought provoking piece Penny 🙂

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    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for reading and commenting – and for introducing me to the couplet ‘In your life nothing is complete – somewhere someone doesn’t get the sky while another the earth.’ That’s very true, although I always wish I could give the woman without the sky a window, and the woman without the earth a little window-box!
      I’m glad you found the piece thought-provoking. Knowing when to say goodbye to a lover is one of the hardest decisions we face, I guess.
      With very best wishes
      Penny 🙂

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    • On the whole I agree with you, Varad. They probably weren’t a good match. But I think one of the nicest things about writing fiction is we can explore the circumstances under which they might be a good match!
      Thanks for commenting!

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    • Jerry, you’re right that Linda certainly tried to make it work. But you know, not everybody is as lucky as us in finding the right life-partner quickly! I think this couple tried, split up, moved on; no real blame, no real heartbreak. But some fond memories…

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    • Thank you, Subroto. That’s a kind remark because I’m working on being more descriptive in flash fiction. As regards where I took the prompt, if you look closely at the trainers you’ll see unusual wear marks. They look to me like footwear that has been in some kind of restraint; I’d guess they fit a rowing machine pretty exactly. Hence the story!

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    • You’re right; we can’t. What are the crucial choices to make correctly in life, I wonder? Or, to put it another way, what does it mean to live a good life? Essentially all my writing is about that, in one way or another.
      Thank you for commenting!
      Best wishes
      Penny

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